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Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz #1)

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,536 Ratings  ·  1,815 Reviews

A hero with an incredible talent...for breaking things. A life-or-death rescue a bag of sand. A fearsome threat from a powerful secret network...the evil Librarians.

Alcatraz Smedry doesn't seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the wo

Hardcover, 308 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Scholastic Press
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Avy Tran Sanderson's world is always fascinating. I would read it for the story, but this is by far the worst book/series by this author.
I found the chapter…more
Sanderson's world is always fascinating. I would read it for the story, but this is by far the worst book/series by this author.
I found the chapter intros/monologues downright excruciating. If those do not bother you, I say go ahead.

If you haven't ready any of his other books yet, I would give any of them a try before this series.
Aaron Toponce This book is probably a bit rough around the edges, compared to the other books in the series. Then again, this is the first book also, so it may be…moreThis book is probably a bit rough around the edges, compared to the other books in the series. Then again, this is the first book also, so it may be that Sanderson is figuring out his style with the series as a whole.

Personally, I really enjoyed it. The magic system are "talents" that a Smedry family member has. When you read about each individual talent, it's quirky, and strange, and just down right awkward. But, Brandon Sanderson does an amazing job incorporating the talent into situations, where you can think "Wow, that actually would work".

The series is written as a first-person autobiography from the PoV of Alcatraz Smedry himself. Alcatraz explains that he's writing under the pseudonym of Brandon Sanderson, to confuse the librarians, but he's the real author. Each chapter begins with Alcatraz babbling about some random topic for a few paragraphs, before telling the story. This can get jarring at times, until you see a pattern. Each beginning chapter babbling actually is foreshadowing for what will happen in the chapter itself, and each babble has an overall theme that gets flushed out in the end of the book. It's rather creative, IMO.

The language style is written for younger audiences, however, so I would recommend reading it to your kids, if you have them. Otherwise, you mind find the book slightly childish. Regardless, it's still very good. There is romance, humor (very good clean humor), conflict, politics, and just good story telling.

Personally, I highly recommend it.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 11, 2015 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
For the record: listened to this one on audio.

This book is what you'd expect from Sanderson. Good story. Nice rapid plot. An interesting well-orchestrated cosmology. And a cool magic system that's central to the story.

Two things of special note:

1. Unlike most of Sanderson's other work, this book is aimed at a YA audience. I still enjoyed it. But if you're looking for a grim, 800-page tome, this isn't it.

2. This book is fairly meta, especially for YA. It's first person, but the narrator regula
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths

The first adventure in the young adult fantasy series Alcatraz The Evil Librarians was one which I and my youngest son read as a bedtime story. As a fan of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and Mac Barnett’s Brixton Brothers mysteries, I knew the novel was a can’t miss with the little Bookwraith, and I wasn’t wrong. This fast-paced, funny tale by Brandon Sanderson bringing more than a few smiles to my face and eliciting many a hysterical giggle from my son, w
Mogsy (MMOGC)
5 of 5 stars at the BiblioSanctum

I’ve been a terrible Brandon Sanderson fan! Seriously, how else to explain for the many years it took me to finally read his Alcatraz series? Mea culpa, it was complete negligence on my part, and I am sorry. But in my own defense, these books do fall a little outside my purview. After all, very rarely do I dip my toes into the Children’s/Middle Grade category, and they did seem far removed from the author’s other work. By
Oct 04, 2015 Mario rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, when people try to give you some book with a shiny round award on the cover, be kind and gracious, but tell them you don't read "fantasy," because you prefer stories that are real. Then come back here and continue your research on the cult of evil Librarians who secretly rule the world.

Will it ever come a day when I'll give Brandon Sanderson less than 5 stars? I don't think so.

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians was so much fun to read. I think the humor was my favorite part of this book. Th
Feb 17, 2016 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Laugh out Loud entertaining. Must Read!!!
I was sort of in a rotten mood earlier today. All I really needed was a good book and Brandon Sanderson (I ALWAYS KNEW that wasn't his real name) didn't disappoint! I felt better after just one chapter. Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians was exactly the type of book I was looking for today. Short, light, and freaking funny!

Alcatraz Smedry reminds me of a young Artemis Fowl, or maybe a sarcastic Percy Jackson - two of my all time favourite characters!

I'd recommend this to everybody, especially the
Franco  Santos
"It looks... dangerous," I said.
"Well, of course," Bastille said. "It's a library."
Gran libro de Sanderson. Tiene un ritmo rápido, mucho humor y, por supuesto, una trama muy original. En este el autor aborda el verdadero lugar del poder, en dónde reside en realidad, y lo importante que es la información para nuestro comportamiento: cómo todo se reduce a cuán informada está una sociedad o un individuo. Es decir, quien controla la información, maneja al pueblo. Muy interesante planteo de Sanders
I'm shelving this as "fantasy" because, well... I don't want to call the attention of the Librarians down upon my head. They're mean and will probably try to kill me for letting the cat out of the bag. This book was banned, and for good reason. Hopefully, they'll just look at the shelf tags, and not the actual review. I don't want to be silenced.

Alcatraz Smedry (writing as some "Brandon Sanderson" guy as a cover) tells his story, and quite a story it is. Librarians have been keeping us all in t
I'm so bummmed....I've been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it about a year ago. I really wanted to like it because:

1. it's got a great title
2. I've met the author and think he's delightful and a nice guy to boot
3. children's literature is due another winner
4. did I mention I really like the title?
5. the bits I'd read seemed good
6. the concept held promise
7. (I don't really have a seventh reason, but the number 6 seemed icky to end on. Seven has such strength and balance that
Nov 02, 2008 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a zany and slightly philosophical look at a world ruled by evil Librarians!
We met Brandon Sanderson at a book reading/signing yesterday. Such fun! He seemed very nice and thoroughly excited about his creations. Younger than I'd expected and also very "normal" but fun. Most people were there for his other (adult fantasy) books and the majority of the Q&A revolved around his taking over the "Wheel of Time" series now that its original author has passed away. I think, for this reason, he was extremely excited when we showed up with a copy of "Alcatraz" for him to sign ...more
Feb 17, 2015 Sanaa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-read
[5 Stars] This one is a bit of an acquired taste! I loved it, but beware because this one might annoy you if you are not familiar with Sanderson's sense of humor!
Oct 24, 2009 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Shannon by: Bekah Truss
Shelves: youngadult
I'm pretty stingy with my star ratings. So does Alcatraz really deserve five stars? It does. It truly does. My husband got this book from the library because we had each read another Brandon Sanderson book (Elantris) and enjoyed it. When he brought it home from the library, I recognized the cover. My 8 year old had read it a few months ago. I wish she had told me then to read it! But I wonder if she really knew what a good book this was...

I loved this book for several reasons:

1) A disarmingly ho
Duffy Pratt
Jun 26, 2014 Duffy Pratt rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, childrens
I was a little disappointed. I love the name of this book, and in my opinion, other Sanderson books aren't too far away from Young Adult, especially the Mistborn series. So I didn't expect as much pandering and condescension as there is here. Mostly, this felt to me like an awkward mash-up of the set-up of Harry Potter, the narration of Lemony Snickett, and the slightly annoying voice of Percy Jackson.

And it felt to me like Sanderson was not comfortable in this vein, and trying too hard, especi
I was hooked from the first sentence. Not many books start with "So, there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians." I've had several career goals in my life; two of the most enduring have been to be a librarian and to be a Disney villain. This true story (published as young adult fiction to avoid the censors) helped me realize that my dream of combining the two is closer than I thought.

This delightful book
Nathaniel Hardman
Apr 27, 2016 Nathaniel Hardman rated it it was amazing
Wouldn't it be fun if I gave my review entirely by way of comparison to Harry Potter? I thought so too! Here we go.

Category 1 - comedy
This book is much funnier than Harry Potter. The constant editorial interruptions are sometimes exasperating but always funny, and I laughed out-loud several times. Very funny.

Category 2 - characterization
All but the main character in this book are mostly quirky caricatures rather than fully-realized people. Even the main character only sort-of comes into focus
Aug 04, 2013 Kristine rated it it was amazing
The Gwinnette County Public library's copy of "Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians" mysteriously showed up in my mailbox a few days ago. I hadn't ordered it, nor had my husband or anyone else I asked. I started listening as soon as I could (around eruptions of child care) and, by the end of the first disk I was beginning to wonder if I was in store for a visit from Grandpa Smedry.

Turns out a dear friend sent me a copy and didn't let me know it was coming. Still, of any book that could come unex
Kat  Hooper
Mar 13, 2016 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Alcatraz Smedry is a troubled boy. He has no parents and, because he breaks nearly everything he touches, he is regularly being kicked out of his foster homes and transferred to new ones. The only constant adult in his life is his case worker. The bag of sand that Alcatraz receives on his 13th birthday as an inheritance from his dead parents further highlights the fact that nobody ever loved him.

But then a strange man shows up, claims to be his grandfather, and announces that Alcatraz is actuall
Feb 23, 2012 Sandi rated it did not like it
Shelves: lemmed
I'm reading this out loud to my son. I'm not sure why I'm doing it. Oh yeah, I decided I would start reading first chapters to him to get him interested in books. He wanted to make my reading out loud a nightly tradition. Oh, and this is the first book he wanted me to read. (A friend loaned it to him.) I think the only reason it appealed to him was that the word "Alcatraz" was in the title and he is fascinated by anything that has to do with Alcatraz Island. This book is not about Alcatraz Islan ...more
Dec 18, 2008 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ann by: Katie and Tyler
What an incredibly delightful book!
A fast-paced, easy-to-read, first person account of Alcatraz Smedry, a foster kid who has a knack for breaking things. But we soon learn that this "knack" is really a Talent - a Smedry Talent - and powerful one at that!
Alcatraz's world is turned upside down (or maybe right-side up) when he learns that the world we live in (the world of the Hushlanders) is actually run by evil librarians from the Free Kingdoms (where they know the truth...). Alcatraz must help
Sara Shreve
Jul 14, 2013 Sara Shreve rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, and at times there were glimmers of hope for it, but in the end it just didn't work. I didn't mind the narrator's crushing negativity and over-the-top sarcasm. I can see how those might appeal to Sanderson's target audience of middle school boys. What I never managed to understand was why he didn't try any harder to write and interesting and compelling book instead of a book whose only impetus seems to be selling sequels and getting a movie deal. However, the b ...more
Kevin Xu
Jan 27, 2015 Kevin Xu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
I found the narration a little slow because the main character, who was narrating the book always had to go back and correct himself. But the biggest problem that I have is that there is only two locations in the book, the main character's house and the library, which the fact of getting from point A to point B felt like seconds. Overall this book is like a Disney Channel original movie.

The only reason that I read this book and rated it four stars was because it was written by Brandon Sanderson,
Aug 13, 2012 Elevetha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Elevetha by: Miss Clark
Hilarious! Don't be discouraged by the horrendous cover art, it's okay. You should really pick this up.
Sarah BT
Nov 10, 2009 Sarah BT rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't normally do full reviews for Tween Tuesday, but I loved this book and I have to tell everyone about it! I'm so glad I picked this one up for my children's lit class-it's been one of my favorite reads all semester.

Brandon Sanderson fills his book with lots of action, lots of humor and lots of snark, which makes this a perfect read for all ages. It's action-packed with the story really taking off in the first couple of chapters. None of that spending pages and pages setting up the story-
Pixie Dust
Mar 18, 2013 Pixie Dust rated it it was amazing
This is a children’s novel, written by one of my favourite fantasy writers. If there were more children’s books like this, I think more kids would be interested in reading.

Deliriously wacky, yet entirely internally consistent (as Sanderson’s magic systems always are), the novel is both entertaining and educational at the same time. Entertaining because of the humour on every page, educational because the book – although targeted at children – is surprisingly self-reflexive about the writing proc
Nov 26, 2009 Megan rated it it was ok
One of the chapters in this book (I believe it was chapter ten) began with the question, "Are you annoyed yet?" I had to sigh. Sometimes authors should not ask questions like this of their readers.

Yes, I was annoyed with the book. I found the first person narrative annoying, especially when Alcatraz would talk to the reader. I thought it interrupted the flow of the story and detracted rather than added anything to it. It was annoying that he continually told the reader what a bad person he was.
Jun 26, 2008 Scribs rated it it was amazing
Just to add to my review below...I just finished this today and I loved it. What a great book for middle-grade boys but also for any one who loves a really creative read. Honestly. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator Alcatraz is just so off the wall. It reminded me a bit of Artemis Fowl, but even more so. Very unique. I can't wait for the sequal!

This author was at the conference I attended also - he usually writes epic fantasies (He was chosen to finish Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series), b
Dec 18, 2013 Jacoba rated it it was amazing
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz, #1) by Brandon Sanderson (2007)
Genre: Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Plot summary: On his thirteenth birthday, foster child Alcatraz Smedry receives a bag of sand which is immediately stolen by the evil Librarians who are trying to take over the world, and Alcatraz is introduced to his grandfather and his own special talent, and told that he must use it to save civilization.
Considerations or precautions for readers advisory (strong language, sex, death, re
Mar 10, 2010 Nicster rated it it was amazing
To rate or not rate this book. By doing so I can only assume that I am alerting the librarians to my knowledge of their conspiracy and evil plans. Since you are reading this you can assume I chose to chance it, even though I may now end up on an alter of books, surrounded by water filled with sharks with razor sharp teeth awaiting to be sacrificed.

I think the best way to describe this memoir is delightfully ridiculous. It has fantastic writing that is fun not only for children, but for adults as
Apr 03, 2008 Elynn rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. I usually don't like the writing style of addressing the reader with comments, but most the time it was so humorous I didn't mind. It reminds me of the style used in writing The Princess Bride. The basic story is very typical (orphan boy learns he can do magic, is practically royalty or both) but it has a couple of twists. The "magic" in the book is so creative and different it made me laugh all throughout. Its light-hearted, quick read, and looks like the first in a se ...more
Book Concierge
From the book jacket - Alcatraz Smedry has an incredible talent for breaking things; he’s hardly a hero. But he receives a bag of sand on his thirteenth birthday, and his life takes a bizarre turn. This is no ordinary bag of sand, and it is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians who are taking over the world by spreading misinformation and suppressing truth. Alcatraz must stop them! … by infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.

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Brandon’s major books for the beginning of 2016 are The Bands of Mourning , the sixth Mistborn novel, and Calamity , the finale of the Reckoners trilogy.

He also released his longest novella yet, Mistborn: Secret History , which explores behind the scenes of the original Mistborn Trilogy and thus is filled with spoilers for those three books; it also has some spoilers for The Bands of Mourning.

More about Brandon Sanderson...

Other Books in the Series

Alcatraz (5 books)
  • Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones (Alcatraz, #2)
  • Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia (Alcatraz, #3)
  • Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (Alcatraz, #4)
  • The Dark Talent (Alcatraz, #5)

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“You see, that is the sad, sorry, terrible thing about sarcasm.

It's really funny.”
“By now, it is probably very late at night, and you have stayed up to read this book when you should have gone to sleep. If this is the case, then I commend you for falling into my trap. It is a writer's greatest pleasure to hear that someone was kept up until the unholy hours of the morning reading one of his books. It goes back to authors being terrible people who delight in the suffering of others. Plus, we get a kickback from the caffeine industry...” 1222 likes
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